Core Documents

Commentaries to the Guidelines for Practice

Commentary 26 - Treatment Plan

  1. Rationale
    • To organize the thinking of the conservator in planning a full course of treatment.
    • To clarify the goals of treatment and the sequence of steps necessary to reach them.
    • To help ensure that relevant logistical factors are considered (e.g., time, materials, cost, facilities).
    • This treatment plan:
      • serves as a basis of communication and discussion between the conservator and custodian/owner, regarding expectations, potential benefits, costs, and risks;
      • provides a clear statement to the custodian/owner of the proposed treatment and may serve as the basis for both a scope-of-work and a contract;
      • serves as a basis of communication with colleagues.
  2. Minimum Accepted Practice
    • The treatment plan must be put into written form.
    • The treatment plan must include:
      • the information required in Commentary 24, Section B;
      • proposed course of treatment;
      • materials to be used;
      • time estimate;
      • cost estimate, if used as a basis for contract.
    • Unless a previous written understanding exists between the conservator and the owner/custodian concerning responsibilities for treatment decisions (e.g., job description, general letter of understanding, contract), the treatment plan, with accompanying examination report, must be presented to the owner/custodian for written approval. Similar approval must be obtained for significant revisions to, or deviations from, the approved treatment plan.
    • If the custodian is not also the owner, the conservator must establish that the custodian has the authority to approve the treatment plan.
  3. Recommended Practice
    • Even if a previous written understanding exists, written approval for the treatment should be obtained. If only verbal approval has been obtained, such approval should be noted in the conservator's records.
    • The written treatment plan should include:
      • the minimum requirements cited above;
      • objectives and limitations of the treatment;
      • benefits and risks;
      • general description of the properties of materials to be used;
      • alternatives to the proposed treatment, if appropriate;
      • statement that information revealed during treatment may require minor variations from the approved treatment plan.
    • When a partial treatment is necessary before the complete course of treatment can be determined, a written plan for this partial treatment should be prepared and approval obtained from the owner/custodian.
    • For long-term or large-scale projects, special consideration should be given to documenting the decision-making process that underlies the treatment plan.
    • If the approved treatment is to be carried out by someone other than the conservator who prepared the treatment plan, then significant changes to the plan should be approved by the original conservator.
  4. Special Practice
    • Emergencies may require intervention before a treatment plan can be prepared and/or approved (see Commentary 24, Section D).
    • Treatment plans for large groups of similar objects/elements (e.g., archaeological finds, library collections, systematics collection) may be for the group as a whole. Significant variations for individual objects/elements should be indicated.
    • Treatment plans for an object/element made of many similar components (e.g., book, feather cloak, balustrade) may be for the object/element as a whole. Significant variations for individual components should be indicated.
    • Treatment plans for components (e.g., windows of a building, wheels of a railroad engine) of a large, complex cultural property may be limited.


Approved by the AIC Board October 1996.